I make the best decisions when the right two choices are juxtaposed against each other. Here's an example: should I buy this game on Steam called Prison Architect? It looks fun. At $29.99 I can definitely afford it. Without a long-term financial goal (or a budget), I'd frame the choice as: do I buy this computer game, or do I not buy it?
Now imagine I have an investing goal. I want to have a combined portfolio of $100k+ as soon as possible. Then my decision gets framed as: do I buy this computer game, or do I want to be $30 closer to my goal? It's not that buying things is bad or the wrong decision. It's that you need to know your priorities before you can make a good decision.
I've wanted a new financial goal for a while. I shied away from a specific number at first because anything less than enough money to be financially independent is going to be arbitrary. But now, months after I paid off my student loans, arbitrariness seems a small price to pay for a specific financial goal. I've read that the first $100,000 is hardest, and that seems to ring true, so that will be my goal. Also I got a little envious of Dividend Mantra when he crossed the $100k mark in March.
I haven't decided on a timeline yet, and I haven't nailed down the details (actually that's what this blog post is for). Let's lay it out.
Goal: To have $100,000 or more in income-producing assets
"Income-producing assets" means my car and my house don't count. I'm not going to count money in savings or checking accounts either, nor cash in my brokerage account, nor my HSA. I am going to count my I-bonds, my taxable brokerage account, my 401k, and Lending Club.
Here are the totals so far:
- 401k - $22,760.80
- Lending Club - $1,564.30
- Schwab - $1,492.01
- I-bonds - $400.00
- Total - $26,217.11
Not too bad. Most of my stash is my 401k, built with three years of the minimum contributions I needed to get the full employer match.
Of note, I turned off my automatic $500/mo contribution to Lending Club. I'm going to be transferring money manually from now on. The cash takes almost a week to transfer, and I felt uneasy about having so much money automatically go into limbo each month. I still have $200/mo automatically buying I-bonds; the bonds show up in my account the same day that the ACH transfer happens, so that's pretty cool.
I'm kind of low on cash. Last month I lent $5000 to a family member who was having an issue with cash flow. She just got her commission check, so I'll probably have my money back by next weekend. When that comes in I'm going to spend most of it paying down my 0% credit cards. I want to buff up my credit score one last time, so we can get a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) as a joint emergency fund / means of financing large home improvement purchases. Beyond that, I can't wait to buy some more notes on Lending Club.